Emotional Self Regulation - Using Zones of Regulation and The Colour Monster

Zones of Regulation and The Colour Monster
'Zones of Regulation' incorporates Social Thinking® concepts and a selection of personal and whole school visuals to support our pupils in identifying their feelings and levels of alertness, whilst understanding how their behaviour can impact on others around them. This is a concept designed and developed by Leah Kuypers, 2011
The children have been familiar with our 'Zones' since July 2019, with individual children benefiting from small group bespoke sessions to support their understanding and demonstrating how this helps them on a daily basis.  
'Zones of Regulation' enables the children at Oakmeadow to identify and adopt a personal toolkit they can use to manage their feelings and states of alertness. It helps our pupils recognise when they are in the different zones as well as learning how to use specific strategies to change or stay in the zone they are in. In addition to addressing self-regulation, pupils are able to gain an increased vocabulary of emotional terms, skills in reading other people’s facial expressions, perspective about how others see and react to their behaviour, an insight into certain events which can trigger their behaviour, calming and alerting strategies as well as problem solving skills. 

In our Nursery and Reception classes, we understand that language development is central to self-regulation: children use language to guide their actions and plans. Pretend play gives many opportunities for children to focus their thinking, persist and plan. Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.

 Executive function includes the child’s ability to:

• hold information in mind

• focus their attention

• regulate their behaviour

• plan what to do next.


These abilities contribute to the child’s growing ability to self-regulate:

• focus their thinking

• monitor what they are doing and adapt

• regulate strong feelings

• be patient for what they want

• bounce back when things get difficult.


In our Nursery and Reception classes, self-regulation and executive function are supported with the use of the text ‘The Colour Monster’ by Anna Llenas. This paves the way for the children to be ready to use the whole school approach of the Zones of Regulation through helping the children identify and talk about the different feelings and emotions they experience. They can identify the colour that represents specific feelings which match the colours for the Zones. This focuses the children’s understanding of themselves and their feelings with consideration of how they may affect others when they are behaving within certain colours. By identifying how they are feeling and acting, with support from practitioners, the children can regulate and self- manage their behaviour to become the best that they can be in all situations and environments.

What Are The Different Zones?
There are four coloured zones - blue, green, yellow and red. We teach the children to understand its normal to have and to experience the range of emotions associated within all of these zones but its our behaviour associated with these which can affect others and cause further problems for themselves and needs to be controlled.  
The Blue Zone
You could be in the 'Blue' zone if you are feeling sad, bored, tired, lonely, upset or worried. You could be slow and not in the correct mindset to work or behave at the optimum level. 
The Green Zone
This is the preferred state of alertness. The children understand this is the ideal zone to be in to be ready to learn or be in around school and home. If you are in the green zone you may be feeling feeling focused, calm, peaceful, happy and helpful. Ideally this is the zone the children are aiming to be in throughout the day. 
The Yellow Zone
This is when the children feel they are beginning to wobble. They may feel insecure, distracted, frustrated, fidgety and beginning to lose control. This 'Yellow Zone' is crucial to begin to identify. At this point the children can try to get back into the 'Green Zone' or if left they may enter the 'Red Zone'.
The Red Zone
Someone in the 'Red Zone' will have lost control. They could be displaying signs of anger and aggression. They may be be loud and being unkind to others. Once we've entered the 'Red Zone', we have lost control and need to use strategies to get back to the 'Green Zone'.
How Do The Zones Help Promote Accountability and Responsibility at Oakmeadow and Beyond? 
Once the children have been able to identify the zone they are in, its important that they now employ the strategies from their personal toolkit to either help them remain (if in green zone) or help them move into the green zone. The emotions they are feeling will dictate which tools they use. Throughout the year, and through experiences, the children will have developed their own personal toolkit which they use to support them. 
There are various strategies developed around school with and for our pupils. Some may work better for some children than they do for others depending on various factors - ie. age, situation, adaptability etc.  It's down to personal choice and effectiveness. Some children may need additional coaching in helping to decide initially which works better in different situations. However, they will soon begin to rely on strategies which help and support them. All of this is beginning to help our pupils become accountable and responsible for the regulation of their emotions and  associated behaviour reducing the reliance on adults and helping to find solutions that will help them develop as they prepare for adulthood.